Aerial VIsta Challenge Team Design Concept

3689577541?profile=originalHello Everyone!!  As many of you know, we have been entered into the 2014 Wildlife Conservation Challenge.  We are in the process of submitting our initial design concept.  Before I get into that, I would like to thank our sponsors that are making this possible.  RVJET has provided the RVJET airframes.  Fruity Chutes is providing the recovery chute.  MyFlyDream is providing their top notch antenna tracking system  and Xenics Infrared Solutions out of Belgium is providing us with a Gobi 640 Thermal Imaging Camera for the contest.  We have other sponsors sending items and we will be announcing them as we are integrating them into the design.  Fruity Chutes is even going to give us a coupon code that we can give out to all of you, so that you can get a discount on your own system.  We will be providing that soon on here and our team website.


3689577598?profile=originalOk, so I know that many of you are excited to hear about the RVJET.  I have been flying my personal plane in the long wing configuration and I am eager to try out flying in the short wing setup,  I have provided some pictures so that you can see the modular air frame concepts.  As you can see it is a versatile aircraft that can be configured for multiple mission parameters.  I think making it an ideal UAS platform.

The double fuselage is a concept that I am not sure has been tested yet.  It was designed by Simon Hedstrom and his team to be able to fly in this configuration.  We wish to use this configuration because of the requirement for systems integration by the contest rules.  The basis of the contest is to design a relatively inexpensive UAS that can perform anti-poaching missions in an area the size of New Jersey.  Therefore, it will need to be versatile and carry a rather large payload.

The integrated systems will be as follows.   We are planning to use the Pixhawk autopilot with a teleflypro attached to the GPS to give us automatic antenna tracking on the ground.  The OSD will be handled by the RVOSD6.  We will not integrate flight stalization from the rvosd.  We need the processing power and the waypoint capabilities of the Pixhawk.  Telemetry communications will be through a modified Openlrs 1W Transmitter hacked into a receiver.  Thank you Ben from Luxembourg for the coding for this modification.  We will integrate 1.3ghz and 5.8 ghz for video of both cameras and of course they will have switching so that a single or multiple users will be able to view from either camera during the mission.  We will also stream the video over a TCP/IP network for alternate user/device access.  That will probably be from the ground station so that on board systems are not taxed.  The camera pods are interchangeable and complete so that it only requires three quick connect wires and four screws to complete a change.  The night vision with IR capable camera and Thermal Vision are going to be the most exciting payloads.  However,  the day camera with a separate mapping camera is going to provide mountains of useful data.  Including urban and agricultural encroachment history and changes to topography or vegetation over time.

The anti-poaching systems go beyond the visual aid of cameras.  One system that will be integrated is an RFID interrogator to be able to scan and identify individual animals in the game preserve.  This will be a long range reader that can read a chip from at least 300ft AGL.  We are hoping to achieve twice that.  The second system is long range metal detection.  The idea is to be able to identify a threat from humans on the ground.  Do they have vehicles?  Are they carrying weapons and such.  While the Thermal Camera will be able to identify recently fired weapons, it will not see the weapons if they are cold.  This will probably be the hardest of the systems to integrate because I fear that we will have to provide robust shielding from EMI of the metal detector coil.  Finally, we will have a non-lethal deterrent as well.  We are planning on integrating a laser dazzler.  It is a diffused laser that pulses to combine a nauseating and disorienting  effect on a potential threat.

The combined effect of these systems should make for a potent competition UAV.  It will be able to perform multiple simultaneous mission objectives over a long range and adequate time on mission.  It will be able to fly autonomously or under manual control.  It will be able to provide data to a large number of users in multiple locations in real time.  The UAS will identify individual animals and scan for potential threats.  On identity of a possible threat the UAS will be able to provide a detailed assessment of the threat.  We identify the number of individuals in the party and whether or not they have vehicles or weapons.  Upon confirmation of weapons, rangers will be aware of the requirements of the situation and the location of individuals.  The UAS can engage in non-lethal interdiction preventing the ability of the poachers to engage the animal and confusing them to deter escape till authorities arrive.

Thank you again for all of your feedback and support.  We look forward to providing more details of the build and test flights.  Till next time.

Toby Lankford

Joshua Johnson

Jonathan Parrott

2014 Aerial Vista Challenge Team

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  • Toby, Interesting project. I was wondering if there was an update. When is your project deadline? I would like offer our new ExtremeOSD, The first full color, full graphic, general purpose OSD that is compatible with the 3DR Pixhawk as well as the APM. It has not been officially released yet but it is close enough that it might work well in your project. If there is still time and your interested then get in touch.

  • I think the Hugin is going to have the same issues as all other pod and boom planes and 2m wings.  It will have a limited capacity for payload.  The requirements for the specific challenge have a lot of payload.  That is why we chose to go with an airframe that is modular enough to add a second fuselage.

  • I have the RVJet also and have just mounted the pixhawk. I hope to maiden in the next week or so. But for payload, why the RVJet over something like the Hugin? Hugin It seems to me Hugin is a much more robust mission worthy plane..

  • Sometimes you guys are no fun.  just kidding.  It is in initial design phase so we can certainly change systems and directions.  

    As far as metal detection I think I have found a solution out of Germany.  I am in conversations and hope to have more on that soon.  It should be able to work at a distance of 100 meters.  I will provide details as I can.

  • I think a high powered alarms going mental under the platform would notify anyone in the area that they are being watched!

    Keep the lasers for the Labs!
  • How do you plan detect metals flying away from the ground?

  • I would argue that using a dazzler on a UAV is a bad idea.  

    1) The engineering challenges of mounting and safely operating this device are not insignificant.  The website of LE Systems who make what they claim is the smallest portable hi-power dazzler specifically cautions against the close-in (range) usage and the danger of permanent eye damage.  You now need a safety system with an interlock to prevent accidental exposure to the ground crew.

    2) The device being a laser would presumably have a tight forward cone area-of-effect.  Without mounting the device on a gimbal, you will be forced to, in effect "strafe-run" the target you are trying to dazzle.  I'd think you'd be better off orbiting the target to maintain situational awareness, continuously observing and reporting, rather than having to pull out, turn around and reacquire the target.

    3) According to LE Systems Inc they do not sell their technology to any other than military, law enforcement and "security agencies".  Export controls also appear to apply.

    4) A small size drone should be considered expendable since you likely won't have redundant safety systems.  I would think the concerns around losing control of a dazzler in the field when a UAV crashes would outweigh the benefit.  You could always resort to dazzling the poachers with the underside of your airframe.  Oops, I just violated point #5.   

    5) I thought military (and paramilitary) discussions were not allowed here.

  • I would like to use the Apteva Parallella 16 core board but I do not think it will be deliverable in time.  I think the same is the case with the Piksi RTK GPS.  That leaves me with either gumstix or maybe the utilite linux computer on the ground.

  • To me it looks like you're gonna need a powerful computer to do quite a bit of image processing, if so, what embedded computer are you planning to use?

  • Thank you Adam!!  Yeah they do not have the lrs in stock yet.  We would love to experiment with it on our FPV but we have a deadline for this competition and we are able to make some changes before final design so who knows.

    Justin the RVOSD has dual RSSI readings and we would like to set up the transceivers in diversity for a safety measure,  The 900mhz we are leaving open at the moment in case we are unable to get the open lrs to cring down telemetry.  Although we could use it for video as well if needed.

    Backlash.  I love the RVOSD6 and we could use the audio channel from the RVOSD6. I will look into it.  I know that the MFD tracker is also using VBI through the video channel.  So I will have to look into how we make all that work.  We have a deadline for initial concept  and so we may be able to actually make some changes.  As far as the waypoints I feel that the competition could require more than 15 waypoints and so we have to be prepared for that.  We are going to make some changes so we will see how it changes from this initial concept to the final build. 

    Thank you all for reading our blog on the competition.

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